Rajya Sabha today has discussed the pending Juvenile Justice Bill that seeks to treat children over the age of 16 years as adults, while trying for criminal cases. Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi reiterated the need for speedy passage of the bill in the aftermath of release of the juvenile accused in the Nirbhaya gang rape case.
The Minister said the bill, which has already been passed by the Lok Sabha, cannot get more nuanced and compassionate than at its present form.
While the House was discussing the Bill, Nirbhaya aka Jyotii Singh’s, (the gang rape victim who had succumbed to death following the incident) parents Asha Devi and Badrinath were also present. They have been demanding for alteration in the law, ever since the juvenile convict was punished with three year imprisonment in a remand home and released a couple of days back, while other convicts have been sentenced to death.
Along with its key provision of treating 16 year olds in par with adults for crimes, the bill includes other provisions like the setting up of Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) and Child Welfare Committees (CWC) in each district. The JJB will conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether a juvenile offender is to be sent for rehabilitation or be tried as an adult. The CWC will determine institutional care for children in need of care and protection.
While the penalties for cruelty against a child, offering a narcotic substance to a child, and abduction or selling a child have been prescribed, there are also provisions describing Eligibility of adoptive parents and the procedure for adoption.
However, the passing will not be a smooth affair with many of the Opposition MPs, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azaad saying that the government is acting in haste and it shall bring peril to millions of children in the country.